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Old 23-11-2010, 17:18   #1
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Used Catalina

This is a great website. A lot to digest. I am still searching the web for a boat in the 38 to 40 foot range. My interests lie in finding something to blue water sale in. I will live aboard as well. My question is, I've run across a 38 footer in California. It seems to be in decent shape , only an inspection will bear that out. It's a Catalina sloop. In looking at postings here, I can't get a feel for the Catalina. What folks think about them, resale value. The boat is a 1983, so I'm sure I will need to refit a bit. Could someone help me muse this decision? I'd appreciate any and all help.

Regards, Gary

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Old 23-11-2010, 19:21   #2
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Maybe it would be better if we had a vote button option

1 = In favor
2 = not in favor

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Old 23-11-2010, 19:50   #3
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Dude..Is 2 feet a deal killer?
"The Japanese motorcycle companies want to make an easy car. I want to make a difficult bicycle"
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Old 23-11-2010, 19:55   #4
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If all you want to do is live aboard, sail locally and get in to the game without spending much, Catalinas are fine if they have been well maintained. If you plan to do any blue water cruising, you should look at something more substantial than a Catalina. The ocean is an unforgiving mistress not to be challenged by any but the most robust, well fitted out vessel. Sure, there are those who have done ocean crossings in boats made of plastic bottles strapped together but a solid Cat at least 35 feet or mono with a 32+foot waterline would be minimal requirements IMHO. Be sure to get a marine survey and have a mechanic check over the power plant as well as do an oil analysis. Spend time looking at offshore boats and educate yourself about their advantages and disadvantages. Welcome to CF and good luck in your search... Capt Phil
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Old 23-11-2010, 20:02   #5
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Originally Posted by itchybro View Post
What he said. That boat is a STEAL for someone...
Bill Streep
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Old 23-11-2010, 20:25   #6
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Well, price is an issue for me too. I'd like to get in under 40K
Yes, I know that ties my hands, but money's money. I'll just keep looking.
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Old 23-11-2010, 20:59   #7
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Can't speak for the 38ft, but the 42ft in the link above certainly seems a good bargain.

I like the 42 - lots of cockpit space and a good, roomy layout below (mine's the 2 cabin version). Well suited to live aboard.

I bought mine as a "that'll do" boat for a trip I did 3 years ago and decided to hold on to it when I got back because I liked it so much.

I've done over 20,000 miles in it, much of it offshore. It's been through quite a bit in that time - pounding into a sustained 40kts on a few occasions, fallen off waves etc etc. no problems.

I added an inner stay and runners (because I like the staysail / reefed main configuration offshore when the wind gets up). Also, the whole ground tackle thing probably needs a review. Production boats are always a bit light in that department.

Do I think it's strong enough for offshore? - certainly. Would I take it to the southern ocean or pound for days into weather? - naaah.

150 mile days in safety and comfort - I think you'll like it.
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Old 25-11-2010, 00:14   #8
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From the Catalina owners forum

I asked what Cat owners thought of the Catalina's ability to cross the ocean. This reply was honest and I appreciated it. I don't know a lot about what is required, so I need to seek and learn, thats how I figure things out.

"Catalinas as well as most all other production boats are neither designed or intended to cross oceans. Lack of storage, fuel capacity, water, rigging, sails etc would all require extensive modification. Some would argue that any boat can with extensive modification but why bother? Hunters, Catalinas, Beneteaus are all coastal cruisers so if you are really intent on a specific purpose, you would do better finding a boat designed for that need."

I'm curious what anyone knows what changes would be required to get a boat ( like the Cat )ready to handle ocean crossings
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Old 25-11-2010, 03:56   #9
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Originally Posted by gpshephe View Post

I'm curious what anyone knows what changes would be required to get a boat ( like the Cat )ready to handle ocean crossings
At a minimum:

1) Adding fuel tanks. I believe the Catalina 38 holds 35 gallons of fuel stock. Assuming 1/2 gph consumption @ 6 knots cruising, thats only a range of 420 nautical miles under power. You'll want 100 gallons of fuel or more...and then jerry jugs in case you need more.

2) Adding water tanks. Stock, the Catalina 38 has only 35 gallons of water capacity. That is unacceptable for such a boat. Assuming 1 gpd per crew and a 45 day crossing with a crew of 3, you should have *AT LEAST* 135 gallons of water in tanks. You will be taking sponge baths and not smelling great with this limited amount of water supply. Do *NOT* count on a watermaker working. If you have a watermaker, great...but then where will you power it from if you only have 35 gallons of diesel fuel? Generator wont be able to run too long with that little fuel!!!

3) I'd make sure all the standing rigging was inspected and if there is *ANY* wear/tear...replace it with upsized wire. I'd be inspecting those chainplates and knees and beefing them up accordingly.

4) If you have in-mast furling on this boat...consider dumping it and going with a traditional lazy jack sail. Offshore is no-where good to deal with a main jammed halfway out

5) Strongly would consider adding a baby-stay (if the foredeck can handle it) to fly a storm sail.

6) Make sure your aft and mid-ships cleats are strongly supported with backing plates or reinforced in order to trail a storm anchor or drogue. Buy a drogue if you dont have one

7) Upgrade your lifelines from the crappy stock ones (aka knee-clippers) and supplement by putting lifeline netting

8) VERY IMPORTANT - inspect living areas for handholds. I dont know the interior of the Catalina 38, but if its anything like most production boats (even racer/cruisers), there will be a decided lack of handholds. Install with proper backing as necessary.

9) Make sure you have an area that can be set up with a lee cloth for a proper sea berth. Aft and forward cabins are usually too large and have too much motion while underway. Ideally, you would have a 5-6 foot length straigth settee with anchorable points at both ends to attach a lee cloth to

10) Check all your thru-hulls and add backing plates. Most production builders go cheap on this step...god knows why, only a few extra hundred bucks when they're doing the installation but thousands to upgrade after the fact

11) You probably have an autopilot, but you'll also want to have some non-electrical self steering system. Monitor wind-vanes are the gold standard...and priced accordingly. From what I recall, C38s have a traditional transom, not the sugar-scoop more modern boats have. This will make the wind-vane installation easier actually as there is less supporting metalwork required to make it fit

12) Beyond wind-vane, you'll likely have to upgrade your auto-pilot. If you have a wheel pilot...dump it on ebay and get a direct drive unit mounted to the quadrant below.

13) Electronics for offshore...make sure you have at a minimum a Radar. . A top tier VHF that is networked to your GPS for DSC calling. Make sure that prior to going offshore, you've gotten your HAM license and are well versed in HF communication. You'll want to have an SSB for long range communication....with associated grounding plates and copper for proper antennae tuning. At a bare bones minimum, you'll want to have a good SSB capable of receiving long range weather forecasts and some way of downloading the grib data to your laptop. You'll be outside of traditional weather forecasting this is what will tell you if you're in trouble or not. AIS would be good as another year or two I would say that this will become required for offshore like the radar.

14) Some kind of power generation. Solar is best, IMHO. Wind as a backup/backstop. Generator as a backup. Honda EU2000 is a good cheap way to keep batteries topped up. You'll be sucking down amps between autopilot and likely refrigeration.

***edit*** forgot a couple key things

15) This likely should be much higher on the list. In fact, it would be one of the first things I do. BILGE PUMPS!!! Your stock bilge pump is probably very undersized. Install at least 2 automatic bilge pumps such that they trigger automatically at varying water levels. One should trigger as soon as there are a few inches of water in the bilge. The second should trigger when there is even more water in the cabin. When wiring them, make sure your battery bank can handle the amperage draw of 2 of these pumps going simultaneiously. Theoretically, the second should turn on after you power up the engine alleviating the amperage draw (its your "Oh $hit" pump that will power on when things really go bad) but still have the amps. Lastly, add a 3rd manual bilge pump that can be operated remotely

16) Make sure your cockpit can drain effectively and quickly. Considering upgrading the scuppers and/or adding more drainage. Consider also adding your manual bilge pump controls in the cockpit itself.

17) Consider adding several tether points in the cockpit that are STRONGLY backed up with plates.
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Old 25-11-2010, 06:10   #10
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It was my comment gpshephe quoted above so I might as well respond. Nioghtowl covered all the typical upgrades but some of the "extensive upgrades" to which I referred are more design and construction related and therefore not easily improved upon. Catalinas at least at one time on certain models had a wood keel step which obviously rots over time. A major repair.

Hull GRP thickness is among the thinnest in the industry and I have measured a number of them to state based upon supportable evidence. No one plans to hit anything offshore but stuff happens, 20 ft seas are not uncommon and fatigue of glass is a consideration. Hull construction cannot be owner modified.

Another not easily modified change is the bulkhead tabbing which is glued and therefore prone to separation. This is not uncommon to all production boats designed for coastal cruising and not a condemnation specific to Catalina but is indicative of your problem taking a Catalina offshore.

Extra tankage and extra storage come at the sacrifice of other usable space which is essential to a comfortable cruise. Some folks easily accept the sacrifice but why bother if you have a choice in a better designed purpose-built boat?

The biggest mistake buyers make is not purchasing something designed for their intended use. Buying a Catalina for offshore sailing is a textbook example of the term - mistake.

Sure somebody has done precisely that but there are always exceptions...
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Old 25-11-2010, 06:40   #11
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Yeah I forgot to mention the glued in bulkheads. You'd want to make sure you reinforce and tab them in with fiberglass. As you can see, with all of these upgrades, you've likely used up any differential in price between a purpose built bluewatwer passagemaker and this Catalina 38, and you still have to deal with the hull strength/thickness and watertight compartments that the Catalina won't ever have. This is why heavily upgraded yet barely used older bluewater boats are such a bargain...*IF* you can buy them cash.

Look, large production boats cross oceans all the time. For examples, look at all the cruiser rallies, like the arc and Caribbean 1500. These boats can and will make ocean prepare properly and you will be fine. You'll have many more sailing days as the heavier bluewater guys will need to motor on light air days.

But for my money and life...if I'm crossing an ocean, I want to be in a 40 ft+ bluewater...preferably in a psc 40

Otherwise, plenty of great coastal cruising in Florida, Bahamas, and West Indies that my coastal cruiser is perfectly good for (I have a beneteau 343).
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Old 26-11-2010, 20:37   #12
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tongue in cheek

After reading the story of the 3 kids from the South Pacific lost for 50 days, I'm thinking about just lashing some 50 gallon drums together and pushing off.
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Old 26-11-2010, 21:08   #13
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The 1983 Catalina 38 was built to the IOR rule, and is more of a cruiser/racer than most modern Catalinas, which are probably more appropriately considered "performance cruisers." It has a pronounced tumblehome and a tiny stern, as was characteristic of boats designed to the IOR rule. It's primarily driven by its genoa. The rudder, in my opinion, is undersized, and the boat is not known for down-wind stability. While it's a good-looking boat, it's really an outmoded design. If there was a significant production problem with these boats, it was the "Catalina smile," a separation of the keel/hull joint.

There were many of these boats built, and they are considered classics among Catalina aficionados. While they do not share the well-mannered characteristics of more modern Catalinas, especially boats with a "MK II" designation, they can be had for very little money these days. The downside, as a cruising boat, is that they tend to have very little storage space, certainly less than you'd expect on a modern 38-footer. Indeed, the older 38s seem to be a smaller boat than the modern 36s.
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Old 26-11-2010, 21:16   #14
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Mistake... best way to put it...

Nightowl is spot on!

As a coastal cruiser this era boat is great. Very comfortable, built like a tank and sails well and does the local job well. As a long distance vessel, not so much.

I have and am doing exactly what you are considering and after about 40k worth of supplies (My cost, my labor) to re-work everything, I am still short all of the items for long range cruising nightowl mentioned and he does speak the truth.

Capacities are the limiting factor regarding fuel, can get by on smaller tankage for water but will need a watermaker... Have set up systems for solar, wind, generator and batteries and all works fine. Storage is not designed for long range (Read food)

I am comfortable with the vessels ability to harbor hop or anchorage hop and feel okay challenging up to week long passages as is but that would be a limit. anything more would take serious consideration and desire to attempt.

The hull is built very strong but the design is not a full keel or close and does get tender in heavy weather, can be fun close by shore but not sure I would like the very responsive race designed capabilities for a couple of weeks on end with heavy seas or leaving the helm to a lesser capable mate for a night watch when things got dicey.

Don't get me wrong, love my boat and she is great within her designs but i am learning the more I learn I am leaning towards wanting a full world capable cruiser with the potential for stores, systems, and design to do it, this is not the correct boat. This being said, doesn't mean I wont try it aboard my boat as I am financially limited more than my dreams want me to be and I am comfortable she can handle the challenge, just not sure I am with her designed limitations.

By the way, anyone out there looking for a well equipped, nicely upgraded "Coastal Cruiser" and willing to take her as a trade in +$$ to a true "Blue water capable" boat, knowing I will take your boat around the globe, I would love to discuss further.

Hope this helps.
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Old 27-11-2010, 14:59   #15
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For what its worth, Lin and Larry Pardey like the Catalina 38 ... An Interesting and Affordable Cruising Boat Choice | Sailing Blog | Lin & Larry Pardey

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